Samsung predicts Android 4.1 to reach U.S. Galaxy S III smartphones soon

Samsung's made it official. Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) is coming to U.S. owners of its Galaxy S III "in the coming months."

The vague prediction was made in a statement Wednesday in which Samsung also announced that, as well as the mobile operating system upgrade, Samsung would push new and enhanced TouchWiz features to the Galaxy S III's that the company claims will give users a faster, richer, and more responsive experience.

Samsung said the update will be available both over the air and as a download. When and how it reaches users, though, will be left up to the carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular.

Last month, reports began to appear of bootleg versions of Jelly Bean appearing on Galaxy S IIIs in Canada for units produced for carriers Rogers, Bell, and Telus, and in the United States on phones for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Samsung has already begun pushing the operating system to handsets in Eastern Europe, according to one report.

Enhancements included

samsung galaxy s iii
Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung said the update will enhance the Galaxy S III's camera. Those enhancements include:

  • Some new filters—warm vintage, cold vintage, black-and-white, sepia, and color highlights.
  • A pause-and-resume feature lets you string together video clips and reduce the need for post-capture editing.
  • A low-light photo mode uses the camera's High Dynamic Range capabilities to improve pictures taken in less-than-optimal lighting conditions.

There are some other new features added to the handset by the update, such as:

  • The phone's Pop Up Play picture-in-picture viewer window can now be resized or paused.  Pop Up Play allows  you to view picture-in-picture video when using the phone's video player. You can even use it to create a small video window that can sit on top of other apps, so you can, for example, watch a movie while checking email.
  • An Easy Mode has been added to the handset to help first-time owners by increasing the size of the home screen widgets and focusing on essential features of the device.
  • A new Blocking Mode lets you disable incoming calls, notifications, alarms, and LED indicators for a designated amount of time.
  • Keyboard options have been expanded with the addition of Swype.

Jelly Bean also adds some powerful features to the handset. They include:

  • A service called Google Now that pushes to the phone's display notification information such as traffic reports, train schedules, and sports scores. In addition, an Apple Siri-like voice assistant works across a range of areas such as weather, maps, navigation, search, and flight status. It can be launched from a lock-screen shortcut or from a long press of the menu key from any screen.
  • Richer notifications that you can expand or contract with a pinch. You can also act on them without opening an application.
  • Widgets that can now automatically adjusted. When you drag a widget or icon to a screen, the other widgets and icons move around to accommodate the new icon or widget. Icons and widgets are also automatically resized to fit the screen.

With Jelly Bean, the Galaxy S III also has some expanded hardware support. The phone's display can be shared with any HDTV or device with HDMI input through the AllShare Cast Wireless Hub. In addition, the phone can now be paired with a single touch to any NFC Bluetooth accessory.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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